The 18th of January. Not a very special date; it’s in the middle of the first month of the year and isn’t particularly remarkable, apart from being renowned as the year’s most depressing day – Blue Monday.
‘Blue Monday’ as this third Monday in January has become known is so-called because it falls a couple of weeks after most people have returned to work after the Christmas break, yet is still just under 2 weeks from most people’s payday. Having probably spent a bit too much over the Christmas period, many people are feeling a bit of financial strain and may be in some debt – it’s a case of “Too much month at the end of their money.” The weather is dull and dismal; nights are long, days are short. Many people go to work and return home in the dark, never seeing the sun’s rays. Opportunities for outdoor exercise are limited.
On top of all that, we are in the grip of a global pandemic that has caused worry for millions – loved ones may be at risk, the effects of social isolation and reduced income all play their part in adding to the stresses that people may feel.
Taken together, all of these factors add up to making this time of year a time when mental health problems may be noticed more acutely and when people who have just about been able to cope really can show more obvious signs of poor mental health. This is true of any year, but is even more relevant this year with the added ‘Covid factor.’
It’s therefore all the more important to look after one’s own mental health, as well as looking out for that of colleagues, friends and family.
So here are our 5 top tips to think about using to try and help manage your mental health, not just tomorrow but throughout the rest of these winter months and beyond:
- If you are one of those people who goes to work and returns home in the dark, try and use your breaks to get outside, even for just a few minutes. Doing so can help to lift your mood.
- While you’re outside, why not partake of a little physical activity? This releases ‘happy hormones’ that again help to make you feel just a little better. It doesn’t have to be much – we’re not talking press-ups here; just a short walk is enough. Ok, you can go for a jog if you fancy it.
- Try meditating. This can help to calm your mind and give you greater focus. There are loads of apps, some free, plus online tutorials which you can download to help.
- Try not to take work home. Relax at home. Don’t drink excessive amounts of alcohol (home measures are almost always larger than pub measures), but do take time to read, play with the kids/dog/both. Put your laptop and mobile phone away too – they stimulate the brain in a way that can hamper your ability to get to sleep.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Turn in at a reasonable hour and try and get 7 hours of good quality sleep.
As the great Dr Frasier Craine always said at the end of his radio programme, “Here’s wishing you all good mental health.”